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Solar Lighting. Any experts out there ...?

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  • Solar Lighting. Any experts out there ...?

    Hey, I'll even take the advice of a semi-expert! Do you play one on TV?

    The key to solar lighting seems to be twofold, ... I think:

    1. Solar panels.
    2. Battery(ies)

    The solar panel prices are all OVER the map ... on ebay I can buy them dirt cheap. Online, well, they're more expensive.

    Oh, I'm going to put solar lighting in my barn ... it would be just too expensive to hard-wire it.

    Can I use a car battery ... ? Yes, I know I'd have to have a "converter" or whatever it's called, that taps into the battery. But holy smokes, everything so confusing ... I just don't know who or what to believe!!!


    Thanks, in advance, for any info you think would help.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

  • #2
    I really don't want to be a spoil sport . But we want to light our barn and arena with solar lights, and have been doing research for the last two years. It's SO overwhelming, nothing "easy" is good enough or powerful enough to provide the power/light we need, and you really do need to become an expert to do it yourself. We came to the realization this summer that unless we want to invest in a expert install (and it's expensive), we just aren't going to be able to do it. We're not handy enough, and don't have any friends, family, or aquaintances that are handy enough , and right now the state of VA has no financial incentives for installing solar. So we've put in on the shelf for now, waiting until we're ready to spend the money. But then, we have regular electric running to our barn right now (though no ring lights). We might have been more motivated if we had nothing.

    Good luck!
    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
    <>< I.I.

    Comment


    • #3
      I am getting a solar system installed in my barn in the next few weeks, my father had it designed by a professional. So that may be something you want to look into, at least having a professional draw up a plan for you.
      www.rockhillfarm.net

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks both of you for replying.

        I don't need a lot of light in my lower barn ... mostly just for mucking and feeding in the winter when it gets dark early. So, I know I don't need an extensive system ... just something simple. DTO, a pro design, I believe, would be prohibitively expensive.

        Jazzrider, any recommendations for reading/educational material?
        "For God hates utterly
        The bray of bragging tongues."
        Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

        Comment


        • #5
          I think I have a bunch of good sites bookmarked on my laptop at home. I'll try to remember to post them for you -- won't be able to before the weekend though. I have events here at work both tonight and tomorrow.
          "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
          <>< I.I.

          Comment


          • #6
            Is there some reason these lights don't work ?
            http://www.ycasolarlightstore.com/5_...p/3160wrm1.htm
            ... _. ._ .._. .._

            Comment


            • #7
              In the last thread about solar lighting for outdoor arena's, I tried these which are also 5 LED:

              http://www.ycasolarlightstore.com/So..._p/flp-002.htm

              We bought just one to try -- charged it as per good, direct guidance from the store's rep (and follow up) -- and it barely lit the ground just beneath the pole. And we only mounted it about 12 feet up. The light was too blue, too dim. It really just did not cast well, and certaintly didn't spotlight. We were bummed. I will say, though, that that site's customer service was fantastic. They were also bummed it didn't work out.
              "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
              <>< I.I.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't imagine that the fixture you chose would be much good as it is not meant for your purpose.
                ... _. ._ .._. .._

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
                  Hey, I'll even take the advice of a semi-expert! Do you play one on TV?

                  The key to solar lighting seems to be twofold, ... I think:

                  1. Solar panels.
                  2. Battery(ies)

                  The solar panel prices are all OVER the map ... on ebay I can buy them dirt cheap. Online, well, they're more expensive.

                  Oh, I'm going to put solar lighting in my barn ... it would be just too expensive to hard-wire it.

                  Can I use a car battery ... ? Yes, I know I'd have to have a "converter" or whatever it's called, that taps into the battery. But holy smokes, everything so confusing ... I just don't know who or what to believe!!!


                  Thanks, in advance, for any info you think would help.
                  The first thing you need to do is go to the NOAA website and find the chart that gives average sunlight hours for your area. You may well find that solar won't be economical because you don't get enough hours to keep the batteries charged. Remember that it's not just how many hours of daylight you get (that's easy to figure) but how much sunlight do you get (and that's a function of both date and weather).

                  I did a major research project for myself a few years back as part of a refencing program and wanted to use solar powered pumps to move water into stock tanks. The long and short of the matter was that in our part of the TN Valley I'd have many days where the pumps would not work. It's not uncommon here to have 7 or more consecutive days in our "wet season" where we get no direct sunlight at all. I've even had solar fence chargers "go dead." One look at the NOAA map told me why.

                  If you've got enough sunlight to keep the units functioning, then decide what might work best for you.

                  Good luck in your project.

                  G.
                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Jazz and Equibrit,

                    See, those are both what I call "contained packages" ... they are using LED's only...which is going to limit their life. I tried one of those packages, and the entire system has died within a year, because of the BATTERIES!!!

                    As near as I can gather, there are four parts to a solar system: the collector thingie, a battery, a converter of some sort, and a light.

                    The converter allows a charge to be taken from the battery to it's "user", in this case, lights. ANd I understand why they're using LEDs...because they don't require much electricity.

                    I'm thinking of starting with the collectors ... like these on ebay. Well, it kinda goes downhill from there ... as it gets REALLY complicated, and hey, my father's an engineer! I grew up with this kinda junk!
                    "For God hates utterly
                    The bray of bragging tongues."
                    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                      The first thing you need to do is go to the NOAA website and find the chart that gives average sunlight hours for your area.
                      On my way ... THANKS, G.

                      Update:

                      I couldn't find anything on NOAA ... if you can, God bless you, will you share it? But I did a search on "what are the average number of hours sunlight in VA" and the answer is it never drops below 50%.

                      I DID, however, find this! Which is going to take me a LOT of time to work through.
                      AHA! one more clue! This is a good site! And they've got a ton of info ... bottom line, the average is about 4 hours.
                      Last edited by Oldenburg Mom; Nov. 4, 2009, 01:00 PM.
                      "For God hates utterly
                      The bray of bragging tongues."
                      Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have it!

                        For about $400 you can buy a Xantrex 1500 watt portable power pack. Get your electrician to wire your barn and then have him create a plug for the power supply. Charge ppowerpack in house...wheel to barn. Plug cord into power pack, flip on lights and viola....
                        I have 4 cfl's (in the marine fixtures) and I can run them about 4 hours before I have to recharge the power pack. You can come back later and install solar panels and use them to recharge it and you can also easily add batteries to the system. I however, am opting for real electricity.. as soon as I can get the electrician to COME out and hook it up. I've been operating this way for over a year.
                        Shoulders back, hands down, leg ON!

                        http://mellvinshouse.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Some reading; http://www.mysolarbackup.com/?gclid=...FVhJ2godwEC-1A
                          (you need to ignore the patriot crap)
                          ... _. ._ .._. .._

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here's the webpage

                            http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/63/p/1/pt/24/product.asp

                            I bet if you called the company, they can tell you what solar panel to buy. First though I'd try the power pack and see how that works.
                            Shoulders back, hands down, leg ON!

                            http://mellvinshouse.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OK, I'll help. I was avoiding this since my husband is the one that knows how this works, but the first thing he'll want to know if how big is your barn... and if you know how many lights you will want. Our barn it 100% solar and BRIGHT, but it's not a huge barn. We designed the system ourselves, but had an electrician wire it (yes, to code) and had help installing the solar panels. The batteries and inverters and charge regulator are kind of easy...
                              The Farm: http://1738farmllc.blogspot.com/

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Javasmom View Post
                                OK, I'll help. I was avoiding this since my husband is the one that knows how this works, but the first thing he'll want to know if how big is your barn... and if you know how many lights you will want.
                                TINY! It's about a million years old and has 7 stalls, which sounds like a lot but isn't. I lilterally want only ... 3-4 lights that would burn a grand total of in case of emergency... 2 hours, at MOST. Heck if it was a real emergency, we would go to the upper barn, which is completely wired. I'm thinking in most cases, 1/2 hour ... an hour.

                                I don't want to bug your hubby ... he probably has enough to do. But maybe he could shove me in the right direction!

                                Mellsmom! You're brilliant ... that's a great idea! Look what I found, Mellsmom!!!! What's really fascinating about this find, MM, is that it gives all the SPECs!!!

                                More updates ... Mellsmom, you've solved the problem. This is one of the best information pages I've ever found! Granted, it for a company that sells inverters, but the info is still great.
                                "For God hates utterly
                                The bray of bragging tongues."
                                Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  OK. Technical questions can be answered by my husband. We have two panels. A charge regulator, two batteries and an inverter. We have 5 lights, flourescent, bright. I can chooe to turn on two at a time or all at once with switches placed throughout the barn just like regular power.
                                  We bought almost everthing out or Northern Tool or AltE, and we have the Xantrex inverter and a portable back up power/battery by Xantrex too just in case.

                                  I think our panels are these:
                                  http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/w...6869_200306869

                                  Our electrician wired the barn like any other barn, but the power comes in from the panel, into the regulator, through the batteries to the inverter. Just like plugs instead of a breaker panel with switches. We started out with one panel, but added another and two batteries to be sure. The panels face south, with a lot of exposure. The batteries recharge extremely quickly. And do not need a totally sunny day to charge, they charge with overcast days too. Pouring rain does equal no charge though. But I have more than enough charge to last the whole day of lights on and off and I run my water pump off solar too. Good luck, it's not hard. And the people at Xanterx can help you engineer your set up. It is what they do. Snow comes off the panels very easy also, that has not been an issue either.
                                  The Farm: http://1738farmllc.blogspot.com/

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Javasmom,

                                    Thank you so very very much for your help. It's very kind of you ... this is going to be my winter project. Ok. maybe not winter, but fall and winter! I've got lots and lots to read... more later. Thanks!!
                                    "For God hates utterly
                                    The bray of bragging tongues."
                                    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't want to hi-jack the thread..but I have to ask. Is this possible for a larger barn..one that has a lot of lights, fans, a refrigerator, washer and dryer etc.?

                                      Also - with 1 panel costing over $500.00 for only 80 watts is it economical in the long run??
                                      Julie
                                      www.equusvilla.blogspot.com
                                      www.ridingaside.blogspot.com
                                      www.miniaturecheviot.blogspot.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        yes, we had someone out to evaluare more solar power (free). If we covered the entire south face or our roof (which is NOT large) we would have enough for our entire house, hot water, dryer, etc. There are compaines that will come out and evaluate your solar potential. It totally can be done. For our set up, obvisouly two panels was economical in the long run. To do the house using our barn roof for the panels, it is like a 15 year investment... porbably longer. The same company that came out and evaluated our house solar calculated the payments. It was not appealing/compelling/economical enough for us. Instead we are doing solar here and there to off set our reliance on the power company. hope that helps.
                                        The Farm: http://1738farmllc.blogspot.com/

                                        Comment

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